Editor’s note: There are 41 days until the APBA HAPO Gold Cup Heat 1A race takes place on the Columbia River. At the same time, the Tri-City Water Follies’ annual event is celebrating its 50th year of racing unlimited hydroplanes. So the Herald will take a daily look at past storylines leading up to the Gold Cup. These are in no particular order:
July 28, 1991: Mike Hanson flips, Winston Eagle wins race.
Mark Tate and the Winston Eagle won the race, but it will go down as the one final that never got finished on the Columbia.
That’s because Mike Hanson flipped the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes boat right in front of the pits in the first turn with two laps remaining in the five-lap final.
Hanson was OK, but the boat was a mess.
And he was beside himself.
“I was more mad than anything,” Hanson said right after the incident. “The boat was running well.”
Flares went off, and officials determined that the race was far enough along that the finish was declared official.
At the time the flares went off, Tate held a half-lap lead over Scott Pierce and the Miss Budweiser.
It was the perfect ending for Tate, who finished first in each of his preliminary heats (although a penalty cost him one) and the final.
And it was a bad day for Pierce, who just days earlier had set a Columbia River course record for a qualifying lap at 158.207 mph.
Unlimited racing had introduced the flag start in 1991, in which drivers draw for lanes and then cannot go faster than 110 mph over the starting line, with everyone lined up evenly.
If the line isn’t close to even at the start, the drivers are told to go around the course once again before the race begins.
In Heat 2A, the Winston Eagle and the Bud collided during, of all things, the parade lap.
It damaged the Bud.
“That’s two races Tate has cost me,” Pierce told the Herald after the race. “This one and the last one (in Madison, Ind.). I don’t know why he can’t turn the boat, even at 110 mph. He just drove over the back of the boat. Then he turned and gave me a little wave.”
Tate and the Winston were able to get things going after that, while Pierce and the Bud were never able to recover.